Multi-room marvellousness: Sonos Play:5 (2015) reviewed

And that brings us to the multi-room support, which is a Sonos staple and pretty much the reason Sonos started as a company.

Now that multi-room audio has taken off to such a level that Samsung is doing it and LG is doing it and Sony and Panasonic and Lenko and Laser and every man and his dog is now doing it, it’s still worth noting that Sonos dominates this sector, and it’s partially because the Sonos system exists around a basic set of products that work with each other without fail.

We cite that because so many other products have issues talking to previous generations, and yet a Sonos Play:1 will talk to a Play:3, and a Playbar, which was evident through our testing which included several Play:1 speakers, a Play:3, a Playbar, as well as a Bridge and Boost for network extensions.


While we were running Sonos beta software to make the connections occur, all of the speakers worked in tandem and had few problems synchronising, as this only happened a couple of times, and usually with vinyl across the players, or where our bandwidth would drop a bit at home, causing Pandora or Google Play to slow down and cut out audio, which we bring back to network issues on the home ADSL2+ connection.

Otherwise, the Play:5 was a dream, and fit in with the existing Sonos speakers, allowing audio to sound off at the same time across the speakers in the home.

About the only problem we felt was happening was minor, because at times, it felt like the Play:5 was intentionally limiting the amount of sound it played against the other speakers because it could go louder.


When played at the same time as a Play:1 in a nearby room, the Play:5 didn’t feel like it was hitting the same sound output levels, though we could change this just as easily by turning the volume up.

It wasn’t an issue that we really struggled with, though, thanks to that easy ability to turn the volume up, and we suspect this will be something that will be ironed out in time, thanks to software changes.


Another addition to the Sonos line-up, and not just available in the second-generation Play:5 is the arrival of TruePlay, a software addition which afford Sonos the opportunity to make your existing devices Sonos products sound better.

There’s a reason we’re covering this in the Play:5 review, however, and it’s because depending on how your home is built and your room is configured, it may not do as much as you think.

But first off, what is TruePlay?


In a nut shell, TruePlay is the Sonos attempt at calibrating your speaker on a room-by-room basis, relying on microphones in an Apple iDevice to measure sound fall-off and bounce against what your speaker is pushing out.

Available only for Sonos speakers set-up to work as music speakers (making it unavailable to the Playbar, Sub, and any speakers set up as a satellites for the Playbar), TruePlay will have you run its audio test on the iOS app, asking you to wave your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch about the place to record a reading of sound as it travels throughout your room in a particular pulsating combination of highs and lows.

Essentially, you’re measuring your room the way a speaker with an in-built microphone would, only you’re filling in the gaps for a feature Sonos didn’t really expect to add in, and this will create a profile for each Sonos speaker to work with.

You do this on a room-by-room basis, and it should take about a minute per room, so if you have a few Sonos speakers in your home, you might want to put aside ten minutes.


If you only use Android devices, we’re told this feature is coming soon, but it comes down to microphone quality being different on Android units compared to Apple’s as a whole, so if you want this now and only use Android, borrow a friend’s iPhone or iPod Touch.

Once the profile is done, however, you’ll find a new setting in the room settings called “TruePlay”, which consists of a checkbox to let you turn the room tuning on and off.

In reality, we didn’t see much of a difference in most of the rooms we were in, and our living room and bedroom didn’t really make much of a difference with TruePlay, boosting the brightness a little, but that’s about it.

Our bathroom, however, where a Play:1 lives changed dramatically, likely because of the reflective surfaces where audio can and will bounce. With TruePlay switched on in that room, we found a more vibrant and slightly less muddy sound.

As a point, the Sonos Play:1 in the bathroom was hardly “muddy” per se, but TruePlay kicking in there felt more real, which can only be a good thing.

So will it do anything for you?

That remains to be seen, and as said before, this will totally depend on the rooms where your Sonos speakers live, but the inclusion of the calibration technology, or even the addition of it to other speakers in the range is a positive one, and given there’s a microphone found inside the Sonos Play:5 generation two — the speaker being reviewed in this article — tells us that Sonos is far from done with this idea of self-calibration.



The $749 price might throw you off, but if you’re looking for a way into the Sonos system, new Play:5 is one of the best ways to start, offering a solid thwack of audio and line-in support, too.

There’s just so much sound on offer in the Play:5, and it’s sure to put a smile on the face of anyone who loves sound, whether it’s in this room or the next few that get populated with Sonos speakers. Highly recommended.


Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
Beautifully built; Balanced sound that is wonderfully loud; Supports line-in, meaning you can bring in an input like vinyl or CD and stream it around the house; Easy to setup; Touch panel up top feels futuristic; Wired or wireless depending on what you prefer; Can work as one speaker or with two in stereo;
Bass could be a little stronger out of the box; No way of turning off the volume up sounds;